Discover Cobh

Cobh, County Cork

Colourful and quirky, the historic harbour town of Cobh is so much more than a pretty picture

A charming, walkable town, listed as one of Europe’s most beautiful by Condé Nast Traveler, Cobh’s tidy size belies its global impact. It was from here that the mighty Titanic last set sail; a young girl called Anne Bonny left home and became a Caribbean pirate; and Ellis Island’s very first immigrant, 17-year-old Annie Moore, began her journey.

Greetings and goodbyes

A visit to this town simply isn’t complete without a trip to Titanic Experience Cobh. Set within the original White Star Line ticket office, this exhibition tells the story of all 123 passengers who boarded the ship in Queenstown, as Cobh was then known, on the final leg of Titanic’s tragic journey in 1912.

As one saw her steaming slowly, a majestic monster floating it seemed irresistibly into the harbour, a strange sense of might and power pervaded the scene.

The Cork Examiner, 1912

Today, the liners that sail into Cobh are every bit as impressive as the "ship that launched a thousand dreams". As the world’s second-largest natural harbour and recent winner at the 2019 Cruisers’ Choice Destinations Awards, Cobh extends its famously warm welcome to some of the biggest cruise liners on the planet every year.

Famous faces

In the 100 years following Ireland’s Great Famine, no fewer than 2.5 million people – almost half the island’s current population – departed Ireland from this very spot. On a cold December day in 1891, 17-year-old Annie Moore was just one of the intrepid millions who set sail for the US in search of a better life. After twelve long days spent at sea, Annie became the first person to reach New York via Ellis Island. 

But almost two centuries earlier, another young girl with a far feistier spirit left Ireland behind from this same spot. Red-haired and roguish, Anne Bonny travelled all the way to the Caribbean in the early 1700s and became an infamous pirate during the Golden Age of Piracy.

Unmissable views 

Cobh’s undeniable beauty makes it irresistible to budding photographers. A firm favourite is Bandon Hill, known locally as "The Deck of Cards". From this steep incline, lined with a painter’s palette of multicoloured houses, you have a bird’s-eye view of the whole harbour and mighty St Colman's Cathedral – a magnificent, 49-belled building that’s worth a trip all on its own.

Cobh redefines charming with its rows of candy-colored homes along the water and towering cathedral standing sentry over the harbor.

Condé Nast Traveler

A little further out into the harbour is Spike Island. Once home to a 6th century monastery, then a star-shaped defensive fort, it was converted to a prison that closed in 2004. Today, visitors can take a ferry out to Ireland’s very own Alcatraz and experience what life was like for the soldiers, convicts – and even the children imprisoned here in Victorian times. Once known as "Ireland’s Hell", today it’s an enjoyable day out, chock full of wild stories...

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